While I was at university in the late 1970s, I was told by a faculty advisor that the Greek rowers at the Battle of Salamis were given cushions that greatly increased their comfort and efficiency (and the Persians were not). This, in turn, would have derived from the fact that the Greek rowers were "free" men, while the Persian rowers were galley slaves.
Much has been made in history books about how the Greeks outmanoeuvred the Persians in the narrow straits around Salamis. Could the truth be more prosaic, that the Greeks simply out-rowed the Persians? And would this have stemmed from the fact that the Greek rowers were free, were generally treated better than their Persian counterparts, and were basically more motivated to win?